KKL-JNF Educators Study Tour 2019

From January 1-10, 2019, The KKL-JNF Overseas Education and Community Division brought together 67 educators from 20 schools in Australia and New Zealand for an enriching study tour designed to build the relationship between the Israeli and Australian educational systems. First-time and returning visitors went home with amazing memories, along with new educational tools to strengthen the younger generation’s connection to the land, people, and heritage of Israel.

Throughout their ten day trip, the delegation toured Jewish and Zionist heritage sites around the country and learned about the latest innovations in ecological education.They witnessed KKL-JNF’s commitment to the development of the State of Israel and its environment and communities through visits to KKL-JNF projects,  many of which are supported by JNF Australia. The participants experienced Israel’s diverse culture and people during visits to educational institutions, encounters with local teachers and students, and fascinating lectures and discussion groups. 

Click on the day-by-day itinerary below to see pictures and learn more about this trip:

  • Day 1: Australian Educators Connect with Israel

    “As education is an inseparable part of me, and Israel is so very close to my heart, this excursion is the perfect combination as far as I’m concerned.”
    (Shana Friedgut, Speech and Language Therapist, Sydney)

    The first day of the journey began outdoors at the Rosh Tzipor Birwatching Center in Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park, followed by  visit to the Field and Forest Center at Tzippori, which offers educational activities related to nature, the environment and Zionism. In a moving opening ceremony, each participant planted a tree in honor of their school.

    The delegates continued to the Jordan River Village for children suffering from serious illness and physical disabilities, where they toured the multi-sensory science garden supported by JNF Australia and participated in educational activities designed to strengthen the link between Diaspora youth and Israel.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 2: Ecology, Culture and Tradition on Aussie Educators Mission

    “I now have a better understanding of Israeli culture, the Israeli way of thinking and the many challenges that the country faces.”
    (Shelley Beder, The King David School, Melbourne)

    The delegates spent the second day of their trip exploring the history, ecology, and culture of Northern Israel. They experienced the otherworldly spirituality and art of the mystical city of Tzfat, one of Israel’s four ancient holy cities and the capital of the Upper Galilee.

    On an adventurous jeep ride in the Golan Heights, the participants learned about the geopolitical reality of the region, toured historic battle sites, and enjoyed spectacular views.

    At Hula Lake Park, the group learned about KKL-JNF’s role in transforming the site from malaria-ridden swamp lands to an internationally renowned bird-watching site. They finished the day with a lively dance workshop that told the story of the culturally diverse immigrants who built the State of Israel.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 3: Reaching for the Stars (and the Trees) with the Australian Educators’ Delegation

    “Sustainability is not just about natural surroundings, it’s also about what happens between people.”
    (Keren Fuchs, Director of Community & Environment, Misgav Regional Council)

    The educators spent the day visiting environmental and educational initiatives for Jewish and Arab youth in the Galilee, including many supported by JNF Australia. They met with local educators who are passionate about sustainability, visited an educational center dedicated to cultivating leadership skills among youth in the periphery, and learned about Israel’s contributions to the world at the Technion University in Haifa. They finished the day with a traditional Druze meal and a folk music and dance performance.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 6: Australian Educators Explore Jewish Identity in Jerusalem

    The educators spent the weekend exploring the historical and heritage sites of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, the City of David, and the Jewish Quarter. They enjoyed modern, urban life in the nation’s capital, as well as the magical atmosphere of the Sabbath in the Holy City.

    On Saturday night, the group visited Ammunition Hill, where they heard moving stories of courage and heroism and paid their respects to the young soldiers who fell in the battle for Jerusalem in the Six Day War. They ended the night with Israeli folk dancing and music.

    The second week began at the National Institutions Building, where the group discussed the role of international Zionist institutions in the development of Israel throughout history. In an emotional visit to Yad Vashem, they learned about the darkest period of human history and how to transmit the messages of the Holocaust to the next generation.

    Bidding farewell to Jerusalem, the Study Tour continued to the communities of the Gaza border region, where they visited educational and ecological projects and heard from inspiring individuals who have learned to live with the threat of rocket attacks. In a meaningful discussion with local educators, they discussed everything from educational philosophies and school curriculum to Jewish identity, religious beliefs, and the unique challenges of educating children in challenging conditions.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 7: Community & Education on Australian Educators’ Negev Visit

    “The visit to the schools was an eye-opening experience, with many inspiring ideas that we’ll be able to take with us to our schools back home.” 
    (Julie Zhang, Moriah College, Sydney)

    The Australian Educators Study Tour spent the day learning about education and community in the diverse communities in the Western Negev. They toured kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip, heard stories of life under fire from community leaders, visited impressive educational institutions, and participated in educational workshops with local teachers.

    The group enjoyed eye-opening discussion groups with Bedouin educators and students at the Desert Stars Institute for Young Bedouins, which provides its participants with life skills, leadership training, and academic learning. At the ANZAC Memorial Center in Beersheba, they learned about the role played by ANZAC soldiers in the conquest of the city in WWI.

    The day came to a close with workshops designed to give the educators practical tools and educational activities to use with their students back home, while exposing them to the diversity of KKL-JNF’s educational materials and content modules.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 8: The Frontier of Modern Zionism: Agriculture in the Arava

    “Agricultural work by young people preserves the Israeli spirit.”
    (Avishay Berman, Director, Bein Hashitin Association)

    The Australian educators spent the day experiencing the pioneering spirit that has enabled Israelis to grow crops, raise families, and build communities in the harsh desert conditions of the Arava.

    They got their hands dirty picking vegetables and cooking a meal at the Bein Hashitin Farm, which runs Zionist educational programs that aim to strengthen settlement in the area. During a visit to the Vidor Center, established with the support of JNF Australia, the group learned about agriculture in the region and toured the R&D center. In encounters with students from developing countries at the Arava International Center for Agricultural Training, the educators heard firsthand how Israel’s resourcefulness is inspiring people around the world.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 9: Australian Educators Reach the Masada Summit

    “Over the years I’ve heard a great deal about Israel, but the reality has surpassed all my expectations.” 
    (Cherie Cully, Masada School, Sydney)

    The group started the day on the desert fortress of Masada, which serves as a symbol of freedom in Israeli society. They learned about the environmental dangers faced by the Dead Sea, before heading toward Tel Aviv, the economic and cultural center of the country.

    At the Taglit Innovation Center, they saw how Israeli innovations are contributing to the betterment of the world in the fields of examples of  agriculture, medicine, security, science, transport, and space technology.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 10: Communicating Israel to Students in Australia

    “My knowledge is richer now, and I feel that my connection to Israel is stronger than ever before. I’m sure I’ll be able to take that with me into the classroom.”
    (Nava Jachimowitz, King David School, Melbourne)

    On the final day of their journey, the educators saw how technology and nature work together at the Ilanot Forest. At the Alexander Muss High School in Hod Hasharon, they heard about the international program that brings students from around the world together to strengthen their Jewish identity and connection with Israel.

    During a moving closing ceremony at the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, the participants reflected on ten days of connecting to themselves, each other, and the people, heritage, and State of Israel. They shared the invaluable lessons learned, and the new educational tools they will employ to bring the true Israel experience to their students back home.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir